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Thom Gunn, gone west

Thom Gunn made universal poetry of what is specifically gay.

By Grey Gowrie   June 2004

California, where our westering instincts come to an end, has always been an imaginary place as well as a real one. In the second half of the last century the state became the home, and to some degree the subject, of three remarkable English artists: the novelist Christopher Isherwood, the painter David Hockney, and the poet Thom Gunn. Now that Thom Gunn has died, David Hockney, who spends more and more time here in England these days, is the survivor. He painted a great double portrait of Isherwood and his companion, Don Bachardy; Thom Gunn wrote a poem, “To Isherwood…

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